Saturday, September 24, 2005


Anniversaries are interesting. We celebrate some anniversaries and dread others. We hope that certain dates will remind us of the joys we felt or the love we shared when we began a relationship, married, or graduated from school. Sometimes we spend an anniversary celebrating a life remembered or the date we gave up a long and destructive habit. Whatever the anniversary - we remember.

Last week, September 17, was the one year anniversary of the date our then 16-year-old daughter ran away from home and our reality changed again and forever. I thought the day might go by quietly and without much reflection, but I am finding that on that day and each day since, I remember more clearly than the day before how I felt, what I thought, how I cried, and what I feared. The smells of late Summer/early Fall make the memories strong and vivid. The colors of the sky, the earlier sunset, the neighborhood kids making the daily trek to and from school - these are the things that fill the senses every day. The fact that these normal every day occurrences were still happening last year at this time seemed to me like a personal betrayal by the whole world. How could the Earth keep spinning on its axis when my world had stopped? One year later the sights, smells and sounds of this season bring it all back.

In a week and a half we will celebrate the one year anniversary of the miracle that lead to the finding of our daughter, followed by the anniversary of the date we left her in Utah at the place she was loved and nurtured for 7 1/2 months. We will then celebrate the one year anniversary of the date our son was taken to jail, and the first anniversary of the most difficult holiday season I could ever have imagined experiencing. I look forward to the bad memories being replaced by new and happier remembrances. Our lives, however, are changed forever - in so many ways for the better.

A crisis always brings out the best and the worst in all God's children. I am grateful for the kindness of strangers and the words of encouragement that came from people I could never have imagined knowing a year ago. I still marvel at the goodness that rises out of ashes. My family strives daily to recover from the pains inflicted on us by friends and family whose critical words, thoughtless actions, and mean spirited finger pointing made our struggle nearly unbearable. We mourn the loss of relationships we once trusted.

However, we know there is hope. Our daughter is healthy, our son returned home after 9 months in jail, and our middle son has not only survived, but has thrived in the midst of the storm. If broken lives can be rebuilt, so too can broken relationships - that is...if there is the willingness to take responsibility, learn from mistakes, and trim all that is unhealthy.

One year later....there is hope.

Monday, August 8, 2005

Setting The Standard

When will we really, really become aware of the pain we inflict on people? When will we really take responsibility for that pain? When will we learn that our words and treatment of people can leave scars that last forever and can change the course of a person's life forever? I ask this question of myself as well. I ran into two different people this weekend who told me two different stories which are startlingly similar.

On Friday I ran into a man who used to attend our former church home. Russ is a talented musician and was an active leader in the music department. Last year Russ came home from work one day to find that his wife had moved out and wanted a divorce. Russ was caught off guard and he certainly didn't want his marriage to end, but his wife had made up her mind. The music director at the church told Russ that because his personal life was in disarray he had to ask him to leave the music department!! Russ NEEDED the comfort and care of his church family. Russ NEEDED to be embraced and cared for. Russ didn't do anything wrong, but was deemed unworthy to be in the church orchestra.

It has been nearly a year since Russ's wife left and he has never once stepped foot back into a church - any church. He is broken and angry.

Last night we ran into a beautiful young, talented, gifted, spirit filled friend of ours I will call "Linda". Linda is a talented leader who has a heart for the hurting and a calling into ministry. In recent weeks Linda has been talking with a church who was considering hiring her for a certain position and she was very excited about this opportunity as this is her heart and passion. The talks were going well and she was excited about being a part of this church family.

Three weeks ago Linda was asked to be a part of the church service - a chance for the church family to get to know her better. A few minutes into the service the announcements were made and it was then - at that moment - in front of everyone - that it was announced that the job she had been in negotiations for had been given to someone else and that person was introduced to the congregation. Linda was put in an awful, painful, and public spot and she hasn't been to church since!

Intellectually we know that Christians are only human, but it is especially difficult when Christian leaders take us for granted or cause us pain. Why can't we learn to simply communicate with one another? Do we care what the long term impact of our thoughtlessness will be? We’ve been given a perfect example of how to handle most life situations through the life and times of Jesus Christ. Simple respect should be the least we can give one another.

Several years ago I was tapped to direct a major production at our church. I was, in fact, the director of Drama Ministries and I had already met with the set designer and had set up a rehearsal schedule and was well on track to get the production underway. Then, in a meeting with the rest of the arts team, just weeks before rehearsals were to begin, the Music Minister turned to another woman on the team and said, "I want you to direct this production". I was stunned. It took me several weeks to get a meeting in which I was simply told by the Music Minister, "I'm in charge. That's it." To this day the pain persists and I struggle to make sense of why.

Out in the non-church business arena I have auditioned for many a role I didn’t get, and have applied for many a job I wasn’t given, but I was always treated with respect and was given the courtesy of a letter or phone call. Public humiliation is never okay, but it’s especially difficult when a part of our own body causes such pain or discomfort.

We can do better. We can and should treat one another with more respect. At the very least we need to learn and practice the art of apologies and forgiveness. We, the church ought to be setting the bar, the standard for excellence and respect. Won’t you join me in doing more and doing better?

Monday, July 25, 2005

Spiritual Cutters

Over the course of the past year I have had the opportunity to meet many young people who are cutters. Although it's difficult for me to believe that in today's world there are many people who are unfamiliar with "cutting", let me share a bit with those of you who are unaware of this practice. You see, there are people who are in such emotional and sometimes physical pain that they cut parts of their body in order to feel better. How can added pain be good? The phenomenon is surely not completely understood, but the physical pain of cutting is most often a distraction from the existing physical and/or emotional pain. It's just a means by which people can forget all the other hurts in their lives.

The message in this blog is not so much about who cuts, why they cut, when they cut, etc..., but rather it's about those people I see as Spiritual Cutters. The Bible refers to believers as "The Body of Christ" and Christians themselves refer to churches, denominations, and/or the entire world of believers as "The Body". What drives members of the body to cut other body parts? Many cutters are masters at hiding the wounds while some actually flaunt their cutting. So it is with Spiritual Cutters. Many do it so subtly and to parts of the body which will always stay hidden and they are very good at hiding their destructive behavior. There are others who use weapons of words, judgment, condemnation, and gossip (just to name a few) and the number of bleeding body parts they leave in their wake are many and obvious.

What drives Spiritual Cutters to their destruction? I submit that it is exactly what drives all cutters - they are looking for a distraction from their own pain. Perhaps they are hoping that if they cause a bloody wound to be exposed they will draw attention away from their own gaping lesions left by sin and guilt.

One thing is truth - cutters are in pain. There are healing paths - paths that do not include the infliction of more pain on more body parts.

Friday, July 8, 2005

Comfort Zones

So I hear a lot of this lately, "don't let the actions of a few thoughtless people affect your whole life". Right! I couldn't agree more. I wonder, however, what kind of people go around unaffected by the thoughtless actions of the people they love the most. Do I want to be that kind of person? Where's the line between being affected enough to learn and grow and being hurt, or even broken? If I could find that line I'd be the strongest person I know. I feel like the yellow flag tied to the center of a long rope and flailing helplessly in a tug of war between two teams. One team cries the victory mantra, "I'm wonderful and amazing and you lose 'cuz you don't know me", and the other team drowns out the victory yells with "I get it - I'm worthy of nothing more than betrayal and sadness". One of the teams will eventually drown in the cold pit over which I dangle, but who will emerge the victor?

Why do I have to be the only one who changes and accepts the unacceptable? Why won't you take a risk? Crawl out of YOUR comfort zone, YOU do something uncomfortable for a change, show me...stop telling me - SHOW ME!!!!!

It's hard. It wasn't supposed to be this hard.

Monday, July 4, 2005

About Me

So I guess I should start by telling you a bit about myself. No (the man behind the curtain calls to me) that would be cliche'. Besides, I want you to come back - again and again. What about myself would pique your interest? First, you should know I've never won a spelling bee - that you will surely discover on your own should you read any of my posts at all. Secondly, as is true for most of us, I started my adult life believing in grand ideas and the impossible. I believed I could do anything I wanted, be anything I saw in the looking glass of my imagination, and was worthy of a million friends.

Two marriages, one divorce, three children, and a thousand disappointments later I'm wondering if I still believe.